In Luke 13:10-17 we see the well-known story of the woman who had what the King James Bible translation calls a spirit of infirmity. In the 1600s infirmity was a word well understood to mean a primarily bodily weakness, especially as seen in the elderly.
This phrase, “had a spirit of infirmity” (KJV) is rendered differently by various modern versions: “… had a sickness caused by a spirit (NASB); … had been crippled by a spirit (NIV); “… had a disabling spirit for eighteen years (ESV); … had been crippled by an evil spirit (NLT).
Jesus asked a rhetorical question of those who were in the synagogue service – “Ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” My goal for this little study is to outline some of the nuances inherent in the Greek text, as well as some possibilities that are often encountered in ministry. First the Greek…
The Greek root word asthenia in its various forms has various meanings and implications in the New Testament that bear on issues commonly seen in deliverance. I will look at the most important here; these words are used in contexts that bear on the weakness of the flesh (Mat. 26:41, Rom. 6:19, Heb. 5:1-2); fear and timidity (1 Cor. 2:3), weakness of conscience and faith (Rom. 14:1-2; 1 Cor. 8:11); the weak ways and spirits of the world (Gal. 4:8-9); physical affliction and disease (John 5:5, 11:4; 1 Cor. 11:30; Gal. 4:13); economic/financial weakness (Acts 20:35).
Applying this to healing and deliverance ministry, it seems to me as though the spirit of infirmity can affect many important aspects of life. Some people have relational weaknesses, and have trouble developing healthy friendships or church affiliations; others seem to have an ongoing financial weakness, and are never quite able to become stable financially. Others seem to be unable to fight off the attacks of the enemy or maintain strong faith, conviction or spiritual determination. Still others are afflicted with sickness and disease, or are usually in a more or less fearful or timid state of mind.
Based on the New Testament usage of these words, any of these sorts of personal difficulties could be, in my opinion, affected by the spirit of infirmity, to one extent or another. This is not to say that this spirit causes them all, just as all sickness is not caused directly by spirits; but I believe that any of these aspects of everyday life could be worsened by it.
If we suspect that this is the case, try to discern what part of the person’s difficulty is being caused or affected by this spirit, or possibly other spirits working with it. Bind and evict the spirit of infirmity. Consider addressing other spirits like fear, timidity, rejection, disease, paralysis, mental illnesses, trauma, death, is discerned.
After deliverance consider taking time to pray for healing and wholeness for areas that have been affected by the spirit and its means of entry.
Sources: Concept for wide applications of the spirit of infirmity
Greek lexicons and hints by Thayer & Bauer. Theological Dictionary of the NT, Kittel & Friedrich. Additional related spirits by Chris Simpson.